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Friday, August 3, 2012

What Is - Que Es (2001)

One genre that is under-represented on the Isle is jazz.  While I'm not a huge jazz fan, I do like elements of it mixed into my pop music.  The only album by What Is is a perfect mix of both with a lot of Latin flavour as well.  What Is was formed in 2000 by bassist D'Arcy McGuire.  In his hometown of Toronto he brought together drummer/percussionist Jason Guerriere, guitarist Justin McWilliams and vocalist Rubi to form the core of the group.  With help from several other musicians including a cellist, trumpeter and violinist, the group crafted an upbeat and danceable album that is equal parts pop, jazz, latin (specifically bossa nova) and funk.  Rubi sings primarily in English though occasionally breaks out into Spanish.  Though the album got some attention locally in Toronto, it was released independently and didn't find much of an audience outside of the city.  Though it seemed that was the end of the group, Darcy and Rubi kept at it, forming SolaZul the same year with guitarist Juan Dino Toledo.  They kept their Latin-jazz-funk flavour, but this time around they hooked up with Toronto drum 'n' bass and jungle duo Visionary to give them an electronic edge and together they released the track "Sola Bossa" to much greater recognition.  This success led to a self-titled album in 2005 on Canadian electronic label Nice+Smooth and, with assistance from Visionary, tracks like "Paixão" and "Baila!" furthered their success in the drum 'n' bass world, while Rubi's exploration of other languages ensured greater worldwide success.  The album was released in Japan in 2007 with a follow-up album, Amame, released the following year.  Nothing much has been heard from them since, but according to D'Arcy, who works now primarily as a composer and producer, SolaZul is still going strong.

UPDATE:  Just got an e-mail from D'Arcy McGuire.  Apparently he did NOT from What Is.  So much for my sources. LOL  But Sola Zul is releasing a new album entitled Calor very soon, of which he gave me a taste.  Thanks so much D'Arcy!!  Here's what else he had to say...

"hey weirdly ran across this article about Que Es...a little weird since no I didn't start it etc...myself? I'm still writing but mostly for picture altho I still play bass on a variety of things known and unknown...from Nicki well...Sol Azul lol  Cheers!! D'"

Download Que Es

1 Amar
2 Diamonds In The Desert
3 Hit It Off
4 Calor
5 Vivir Asi
6 Insatiable
7 Walk On By
8 Deeper Than Skin
9 Reveal
10 Piano Soul
11 Love You Tonite
12 Bare